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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Anton Du Beke: context matters in racist jibes

    by Sunny on 6th October, 2009 at 1:23 AM    

    The BBC is coming under a bit of stick for not firing Anton du Beke after he said his dancing partner Laila Rouass as “looked like a Paki” after she had a bit of a tan, according to the Guardian. So why Carol Thatcher but not Anton du Beke?

    Radio 5 Live called me up to hear my thoughts for a potential discussion tonight (later canned in favour of something else). My thoughts to the producer went roughly like this: Anton should not be sacked because he apologised fully for using a racist term and accepted it was liable to cause offence to people. Furthermore he’s just a dancer rather than an editor and hasn’t got some long history of racially charged jibes. Carol Thatcher was in a more prominent editorial position. Furthermore, she initially dismissed it as a harmless joke and, once the media storm kicked-off, she apologised.

    The context, the response and the people involved matter - otherwise one is essentially arguing that there is no difference between the word ‘paki’ being used in a malicious way, and it being used as a joke between two friends. (I argued the same during the Prince Harry controversy and said the whole thing was overblown then).

    What I’d like is a society where people accept that calling someone a ‘paki’ or ‘coon’ or ‘nigger’ or ‘pikey’ or honkey’ or ‘cracker’ etc are just offensive. The point about the BBC is that it contributes towards drawing a rough line across what is acceptable behaviour in polite society and therefore has to take these decisions seriously. In this case I think they made the right one.

    Filed in: Media, Race politics

    • DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells
      FFS man, no wonder you didn't get on.

      What you should have done is told the producer you were ready to denounce anybody who thinks it is a 'bit off' to use such language as 'politically correct'.

      That's how you get things done at the bbc.
    • I think they had someone from the UAF to denounce him.
    • Rozahana
      This wasn't the first time Du Beke used a racial jibe about Laila Rouass
      He also called her a terrorist when they first met. I suppose that too could have been a mistake, and he never realised that calling someone a terrorist is could be understood as a slur.
      Once could be a mistake. But twice even with an apology shows that he hasn't learnt his lesson and could indicate bullying. He should be sacked. This kind of behaviour wouldn't be acceptable in most work places and definitely shouldn't at the BBC.
      It is well and good him saying that there was no harm meant and it was only a joke. But isn't that what a lot of racists say to.
    • AsifB
      I've never watched this programme but may as well say
      a) Sunny makes a reasonable point
      b) This Du Beke bloke does sound like a berk
    • Binkstein II
      Remember the Duke of Edinburgh in China all those years ago?

      He asked a British student how long he'd been studying in China and was told that the chap had been there for several years.

      The Duke responded, "If you stay here much longer you'll become slitty-eyed."

      To Hong Kong Chinese, honkies are "Round-Eyes" and in the cheaper Japanese manga comics honkies have enormous noses and hodeously hairy bodies.

      Mao called this knockabout stuff "Contradictions among the People."

      Still, we can be thankful that nobody thinks we're members of the rat-eater caste of Orissa!
    • damon
      This was a topic of discussion on the Vanessa Feltz radio phone in show yesterday.
      Opinion was so divided. Some people thought he should be sacked off the programme, with one guy suggesting that people like him have to be made an example of.
      To make it clear that this kind of thing wasn't accepted in society.

      A woman said something similar, saying that in her job at a local council, something like this would be taken very seriously and she said he should be kicked off the show (and by implication, be branded as a vile racist for ever more).

      Both were the wrong responses I thought, and perhaps a quiet word in his ear, and maybe asking him to think of other peple when making silly comments would have been the thing to do. It is all about the context of how it was said. It sounds bad, but maybe it was said innocently.
      And innocent until proven guilty here I'd say.

      Having never heard of him before and just looking him up on youtube, he does look like a bit of a tit.
    • The 'terrorist' jibe is unconfirmed - can I just point out. So I don't want to take it at face value. If true though, it would Be pretty obvious he was a racist git. But going by the current controversy alone I prefer to give ppl the enefit of doubt. Especially since he's not in some big policy / political position.
    • Dalbir
      I don't know. A lot of people made sacrifices a few decades ago so we wouldn't have to hear nonsense like that anymore.

      I've also noticed that it is much more acceptable to use the word paki to refer to the brown skinned than it is to use the equivalent nigger, for black people. I wonder why this is? If someone had used the latter, I'm sure it would have been considered a worse offence. Well done Laila, you've taken us another step towards bringing back the good old days of the 70s.
    • Sofia
      A while ago, before the whole bnp thing started coming to the media fore...i would have agreed with you Sunny, but I'm getting more and more sick and tired of hearing these people using language like this. Anton du bek may just be a dancer, but that's his job...hence, this should be treated as any other employee who uses terminology such as this..if someone called me a paki at work, i'd take it up...
    • Sofia
      and this is just another example of celebrities getting away with it...if he hadn't been hauled up on the 'terrorist' jibe then why haul him up for the 'paki' one..it's pathetic and pretty much sums up certain sections of our society...for him to just see paki when he saw Laila is pathetic..I suppose the terrorist jibe came because she has a muslim name..and the bbc does have a responsibility for this...we pay licence fees and we have no choice but to...the least they could do is make mainstream tv a more integrated and diverse experience and not just play lip service to it by having a few brown people on it.
    • Random Guy
      Well he is a dancer - so in his defence he must have a brain the size of a pea, and therefore can't be blamed for his stupidity.

      Still, its a nice insight into the average mindset of your ordinary 'non-bnp' type.
    • Dalbir
      I bet he's from 'Up North'
    • Dalbir
    • Guest
      He's not from up North - in fact, he's almost a young Brucie (Forsyth) - not that I've ever heard of Brucie getting involved in anything similar - in looks, mannerisms, and speech (accent and style of talking).

      He's at the start of a day-time TV career as he hosts a cookery show and he's been on Matthew Wright show.
    • Jai
      Based on various reports in the media, Laila was sufficiently insulted by the fact that Du Beke casually used this term (and in front of a large group of other people present who were shocked into silence) that she immediately packed up her belongings and went home.

      Although Du Beke was aware of Laila's Moroccan ancestry, it looks like he didn't know about her Indian mother, hence the "look like a Paki" remark. Regardless of his apology and claims not to be a racist, the fact that he would presumably use such terminology while making a "joke" to someone if they didn't have an Asian background (let alone someone like Laila who obviously does have Asian ancestry) says quite a lot about the reality of his attitudes, and not in a good way.

      It's the equivalent of him casually "joking" to Alesha Dixon, "You look like a n*gger", and then claiming that he's not racist and that no offence was intended.
    • Jai

      I’ve also noticed that it is much more acceptable to use the word paki to refer to the brown skinned than it is to use the equivalent nigger, for black people. I wonder why this is?

      Good question. Might have something to do with the American cultural influence in recent times, ie. using n*gger has become extremely offensive and unacceptable in the US (in "polite society", anyway), and because of all the cultural and media links, the same attitude has made its way into British society too. Plus black people have a higher visibility than Asians, again particularly due to the American influence.

      Conversely, "Paki" is something specific to Britain and, unlike the n word, is relatively recent. N*gger has a very long history on both sides of the Atlantic; and, incidentally, during colonial times it was also an insult used by racist Brits to describe Indians (as well as black people).
    • Paul Moloney
      The first few words of his Wikipedia entry...

      "Anton du Beke (born Tony Beek)"

      ...say more about him than I ever could.

    • Green Gordon
      It's not really at all excusable is it? It reeks of deep-seated insecurity that anyone could think that was a good conversational gambit. On the other hand no one's going to get in the papers for calling him a cunt, which would at least be legitimate.
    • Dave
      Agree with Jai #14

      The problem with Anton Du Beke is that he still says he's not a racist. In her apology Carol Thatcher said she doesn't condone racism. Now the BBC position is that Du Beke's apology cancels out what is clearly racist behaviour. But the similarities between the Du Beke case and the Thatcher case far outweigh the differences. Don't forget, in the case of Du Beke this wasn't the first time either. Previously he had implied Laila was a terrorist.

      How much evidence does one need before realising that an apology simply isn't good enough?

      All this, however, should be looked at in the context of the BBC's invitation to the British National Party - a truly shocking development.
    • Kismet Hardy
      Whenever stories like this are published (from Prince Harry to this anton ponce in tabloids and broadsheets), why is Paki not given the asterisk treatment that Nigger gets? I don't suspect for a second that Anton is secretly a lapdancer for Combat 18 parties, but the way the word Paki is bandied about in the name of reporting is bollocks. It's offensive to hear it. It's fucking offensive to read it.
    • Swampie VI
      Many years ago I recall being startled, even rather shocked, when told sharply not to "nigger-lip" a joint I'd been passed. Naturally, I did my best not to get it soggy and wet, as instructed.

      Some beginning scuba divers are said to be sensitive about observing jewfish swimming close to niggerhead coral in tropical seas.

      We all remember Jesse Jackson referring to New York as 'Hymietown' of course!

      So that we all know what to avoid saying in future, let's have a list of ethnonyms which cause distress.

      Is Oona King a contributor to this site? Would she mind being called a 'yidcoon' or a 'coonyid' one wonders?
    • George Arthur
      Actually I know a bloke married to a Jap who makes a point of referring to her as "the Jap" in sensitive liberal company for the pleasure he gets in observing the reaction of his listeners.

      Like Prince Charles referring to a polo chum, a Sri Lankan, as "Sambo" I suppose.
    • Dalbir
      why is Paki not given the asterisk treatment that Nigger gets?

      Was thinking the same thing. Let's be frank though, some of them just love what is happening. This includes people writing the articles. They probably feel 'liberated' by using it, seeing as they've had to surpress it for so long.
    • Katy Newton
      I don't really understand why Anton du Beke being a dancer means he's less culpable than, say, an editor. He's not stupid. He lives in the same world as the rest of us, i.e. one where using racist language isn't acceptable. I don't think much of his apology, either. He does use racist language, because that's what calling someone a Paki is, and he knew that it was liable to cause offence to people before he said it. I'm not necessarily saying that he should be sacked but I do think some sort of sanction over and above this not-apology is appropriate.

      In fact, it's just occurred to me that what he's done (especially when you take into account the jokes about terrorism, which I think both of them have confirmed) isn't that much different from what Jade Goody did. Why's he getting any more of a break than she did?
    • Katy Newton
      Carol Thatcher was in a more prominent editorial position. Furthermore, she initially dismissed it as a harmless joke and, once the media storm kicked-off, she apologised.

      got to say this: du Beke is on a show that literally millions of children, pre-teens and teenagers watch every week, and his apology IS basically dismissing what he said as a harmless joke. I see no distinction between him, CT and Jade Goody here apart from the fact that CT and Jade Goody were generally loathed even before they said what they did.
    • Dalbir
      Does this mean that it is okay for me to call fellow workers honkies then?

      You red neck! Sorry wuz jus joking mate.....
    • coruja
      I'd like to be around when Alesha Dixon comes back from holiday. What will Mr Beek say next?

      It's fantastic that we're all such good exposure to the wonders of the Enlgish language, and mostly thanks to the BBC. Coloured folk called/likened to golliwogs, Pakis, Sambos, and chimps.

      And let's not forget we have Boris' picanininies, dear old Alan 'you know I'm extremly clever' Clarke's wuzzy wuzzies in Bongo Bongo land (a shame he's dead). How about Cheryl Cole's alleged 'jigaboo' my favourite so far, almost as good as dear old Jade's 'Shilpa Poppadom/Fuckwhalia' which was quite inspired (a shame she's dead).

      Of course not one of these people are/were racist and no racist language was ever used, it was mostly ironic and in good humor. Sorry for any offense that you may have mistakenly taken.
    • Sofia

      I reckon we should send him a few pointers as to what racism actually is..
    • Dalbir
      It's us pakis. We're just too sensitive.............
    • damon
      I defended him a bit yesterday, but am really not sure one way or the other. As a white person, maybe I should defer to someone with south Asian heritage who says they do find him to have acted in a gross and unacceptable manner.
      I certainly found his words to be gross, and his apology rather weak. It's a bit like causing a car crash and injuring someone. There you were just driving along in your own little world, and even though you didn't mean it, you're suddenly the bad guy that everyone is pointing at and accusing.
      It must be horrible to go through.
      Your defense that you just didn't see the motorbike coming before you pulled out might be the truth, but it would still be a weak one.

      There's an imam who has appeared on the BBC's sunday morning Big Questions programme in the past, and every week in the opening titles to the show, an image of him is shown for a couple of seconds. I can't help it, but when I see him I'm always reminded of Galen (from the Planet of the Apes TV series). It's his eyes, and his mustacheless beard look. But I don't mean ''he looks like a monkey'' and hopefully wouldn't blurt out such a thing in company. But it's the kind of thing I could say inadvertently, and then be saying ''OMG, I didn't mean it like that..

      It would be a case of having engaged mouth before brain, which is something we all do at times (isn't it?)

      Those people at Spiked-online had this to say about it.
    • Binkstein
      Can we grasp the fact that the motor-mouthed and crass Jade Goody was a person of mixed race?

      In the old days she'd have been described as an 'octoroon' or even a 'high yeller gal.'

      Are there really lapdancers at Combat 18 parties? Combat 18 sounds more fun than is generally supposed then!
    • coruja
      @ Damon, the replendent electronic organ of the former Revolutionary Communist Party (GB)also seems to suffer the same fate of getting itself in to knots explaining the difference between racist language and racism. It seems to hint at Mr Beek being accused of a thought-crime. Apparently "Racism today does not have conscious protagonists, as it did in the past". Well that's useful.

      @ Binkstein - so a person of mixed-ethnicity cannot be racist?
    • ZJ
      It is about time we reclaimed the word 'paki' and instead of seeing it as an insult, see it as a compliment. Whether Du beke meant it or not - Laila should have retorted 'actually Anton I'd love to look like a paki, instead I have pasty skin like you'

      Someone once said to me 'one can only look down on you if you allow them to look down on you'.

      Anton Du Beke is clearly not very bright, or media savvy - it makes you think how these people how on earth do they get onto tv in the first place.
    • damon
      Coruja, I thought the Spiked article had some merrit.

      ''Words cease to be a medium of communication, to be used and manipulated as people see fit. Rather they are autonomous, capable of effects their human objects are powerless to withstand.''

      Whether it's BS or not was something I was wondering today.
      It's a fair point of view, even if one disagrees with it in the end.
      It was racist language that de Beke used, and it's a judgement call to how much we need the language police to be intervening everytime we say something stupid.

      Could what he said be passed off as a serious faux pas?
      That's what I'd recommend.
      But you'd expect people to learn from having these pointed out to them.
    • Guest
      Damon @30: your comparison made me chuckle - when I was in junior school, "Planet of the Apes" was all the rage and anybody non-white got called "Galen", but in those days it was regardless of actual physical resemblance, and Galen being pretty fair-skinned. Of course, it never has had the longevity of "Paki" as a racist term.

      Digressing slightly, "Galen" the ape vs. the philosopher for me an idea that separates "intellectuals" from the rest of us - a bit like the Lone Ranger theme vs. William Tell Overture, or Socrates the footballer vs. the philosopher.
    • bodiddley
      What a lot of bull over an innocous comment, have we as a nation lost our sense of humour, yes it was racist but it was not meant to be racist, and she did over do the tan. would it have been preferable to say
      Indian, Mexican or whatever, for god sake have some sense.
    • Kismet Hardy
      I'm so with you there bodiddley. Just this morning I said jokingly to this pregnant woman on the tube 'get out of my face you fat ugly cow'. I mean she totally overdid the weight, but everyone was like ooh let's beat the shit out of him. Would it have been preferable to say obese, moose or whatever, I ask you. I wish these so called do-gooders would have some sense too.
    • coruja
      damon @ 34 - Your quote from the article is another that doesn't make sense - Words as autonomus things with their meanings unchallenged? How does that come about, words have escaped or always have existed in the 'wild' without people creating them and giving them meaning?

      I think most of the stuff that comes out of spiked/Living Marxism appears BS as their position is that if everyone was a Revolutionary Communist then there wont be racism. They also have an almost religious belief in techniological progress allowing humans to free themselves of culture, religion and biological and mental limitations. So I can see why they don't get racism. When people like Kenan Malik argues for a re-defintion of race what he really wants is everyone to be equal ...but only believing in LM ideology.

    • damon
      coruja @ 38, are you not misquoting the quote?

      I think that what they are saying is that the P word now has a life of its own, regardless of what anyone who might of used it meant or was thinking.
      It is a rotten word for sure, with a horrible meaning in the UK.

      This is the actual quote that Coruja is talking about:

      ”Words cease to be a medium of communication, to be used and manipulated as people see fit. Rather they are autonomous, capable of effects their human objects are powerless to withstand.”

      The rest of that 'Lobbywatch' stuff I regard in the same way. They do a great smear story, but what they say doesn't stack up to much everytime.

      Sure, the Spiked people might have got it wrong about Northen Ireland. But this was when the prevailing opinion in Britain mirrored that of the Daily Mail and The Sun.

      What Anton du Beck said was idiotic and wrong, and he should be pulled up about what he said.
      Then we move on.

      Adnan @ 35, I never knew that. But I remenber that 'Kunta Kinti' (from the TV series ''Roots'') was used in ignorance when I was at highschool.
      It wasn't used that much - but once was once too often.

      If I ever used that term about a fellow classmate (and hope I didn't) then I'm sorry too.

      I like to think that my former classmates who were black (if they remember me at all) think of me as someone who was alright and not a bad guy.

      It was the 1970s, and nearly all of us were totally against the National Front.
    • John
      What is so offensive about the word Paki may I ask? It is a shortened form of Pakistani. Fine. People seem to take objection when ethnics are offended and take objection when they think ethnics ought to be offended but are not.

      It is interesting that broadcasters are happy to call Britons 'Brits'. Well if we're in the situation where we must not shorten the word Pakistani in fear of insulting a minority then we definately should not shorten Briton.

      Kraut, Kiwi, Aussie, Russki, Jock, Taffy, Frog, Paddy, Yank and Jap are also often heard on televsion but never questioned.

      A case of one rule for ethnic minorities and another rule for everyone else.

      "Welsh people are irritating and annoying" as said by Anne Robinson was brushed under the carpet but if she said "Pakistanis are irritating and annoying" it would be a different story. Totally unfair.

      These foreigners choose to live in Britain. We should not pussy-foot around them just in case we might offend them.
    • zarathustra
      My old lady was put on some sort of police racism register for telling a guy to get back to his own country.

      His race? Welsh (& white, if you're headed off in _that_ direction)- I shit you not!

      Political correctness gone bloody BARMY if you ask me. Personally, I hated tory rule but, FFS, get these CLOWNS out NOW! =]
    • eric
    • Kismet Hardy
      "What is so offensive about the word Paki may I ask?"

      It's a bit like Mudblood. It doesn't sound offensive to you and me but when you see what it does to poor little Hermione, and you care for poor little Hermione, you'll stick your wand up any cunt that utters it

      Eric, I like your shouty haiku
    • Non Racist Barney
      With just a few exceptions, you people on here need to GROW UP! Get a life and stop whingeing about nothing.

      Whatever happened to the old "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me"?

      If these IMMIGRANTS are so sensitive that they can't stand to hear a simple ABBREVIATION, they should go back where they came from. I'm sure their own governments will be far less tolerant of their childish hypocrisy.

      Like most English people, I'm totally sick of this Jewish-Communist political "correctness". The pressure is building and may God help you wimps when it blows. Nobody else in their right mind will.
    • persephone
      ^^ if words don't matter why is the label 'non racist' needed in a moniker?

      ...go back to your own country ... and if you don't the pressure will build into what ... violence mebbe... and you still like to think you are non racist??
    • Non Racist Barney
      Oops! My mistake. I assumed I was addressing adults, albeit severly retarded adults, but at least retards with a degree of education and intelligence. Now I realise you're nothing but a bunch of silly, deranged children who think it's clever to destroy a person's career for no other reason than that he dared to use a common, innofensive abbreviation.

      Had Anton really been racially prejudiced, as you clearly are against the White race, he would never have agreed to teach a White-hating foreigner to dance.

      We English (and I include myself in this) welcome decent people from all over the world. All we ask is that they abide by the same laws and conventions we do, but if anybody attacks me, I'll defend myself and my race in any way I can.

      If a black person calls me a honky (meaning a pig), I'll call him a nigger.
      If a Jew calls me a goy (meaning cattle or worse), I'll call him a kike.
      If a Frenchman calls me rosbif, I'll call him a frog.
      If a White person calls me a racist, I'll call him an idiot.
      If anybody of any colour throws a rock at me, I'll pick it up and throw it back - twice as hard.

      That's not racism, you idiot. It's retaliating in kind, giving as good as you get, something people have been doing for thousands of years, and it will take more than the likes of you to stop it.

      Perhaps you pathetic little trolls will understand when (or if) you eventually decide to abandon the school playground and start to GROW UP, though I suspect that will be a long time coming.

      For now you aren't even capable of understanding just how sick you really are.
    • douglas clark
      Non Racist Barney,

      Goodness! What aggression. Quite a lot of the people you are talking to here are British, born and bred. They have as much right to be here as anyone else.

      Including certain rather aggressive twits that may or may not be in need of an ASBO or two.
    • Non Racist Barney
      That's right, my apparent agression is motivated by anger, not hatred. I don't waste my time and energy hating people just because they may be "different" in some way. Some of my best friends are from other countries. What makes me angry is when clearly racist people, of any colour or creed, accuse me or my people of racism when most of us are nothing of the kind.

      I can't stand our own hideous multicultists who want to destroy true diversity by pretending we're all the same, plus those few immigrants who claim to be so sensitive that they can't bear anything they imagine to be a form of criticism.

      If I'm referring to a person from Pakistan, I'd normally use the abbreviation "Paki" in the same way that I'd refer to a Scotsman as "Jock". That's what we do. We abbreviate words. It doesn't mean we dislike people or consider them inferior in any way.

      In this present case it's not Anton who's the racist, but his accuser. She's the one with the prejudice - against the people who welcomed her into our country. She's the one who made all the noise with her screams of "racism". All Anton did was innocently use a common abbreviation, and people on here are saying he should never be allowed to work again! Why? What has he done that's so terrible? Even if he really didn't like Pakistanis, isn't he entitled to an opinion? Most of the people on here seem to have opinions, so why not him?

      To quote Noam Chomsky, if we don't believe in freedom of speech for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all. Even if somebody really dislikes foreigners, he should have the right to hold and express his honest opinion regardless of whether it "offends" some small-minded bigot somewhere. Multicultists, diversity freaks, PC idiots, politicians and certain ill-mannered foreigners offend me in some way every day of my life, but I don't go running to the police demanding that they be charged with a "hate" crime. Words may offend, but they can't hurt me, so I just get on with my life like anyone with a functioning brain.

      Got that? Words, not bullets. Nobody is doing anybody any harm, except those who enjoy destroying people's lives and careers because of some word they may have used. Ask Ernst Zundel and Sylvia Stoltz about that side of things.

      It's time we as a nation grew up and accepted people for what they are rather than running to mummy every time we hear a word we don't like. We hear far worse every day on radio and television in the guise of "entertainment".
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